File image: Biden speaks to Zelenskyy on the call after Nuclear power plant attack
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US president Joe Biden spoke to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky after the Russian shelling of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Friday and urged Russia to cease its military activities, the White House said.
Mr Zelensky has accused Moscow of resorting to “nuclear terror” and wanting to “repeat” the Chernobyl disaster after he said Russian forces shot at a nuclear power plant.
The two leaders urged Russia to cease hostilities and “allow firefighters and emergency responders to access the site.”
Mr Zelensky, in a video message after the attack, has accused Moscow of resorting to “nuclear terror” and wanting to “repeat” the Chernobyl disaster.
“No country other than Russia has ever fired on nuclear power units. This is the first time in our history. In the history of mankind. The terrorist state now resorted to nuclear terror,” he said.
Prime minister Boris Johnson also spoke to Mr Zelensky after the fire, calling Mr Putin’s “reckless actions” a danger to the safety of Europe.
Europe’s largest nuclear plant came under attack amid heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops on Friday morning — stoking fears that the damage could lead to a catastrophe.
Ukrainian officials confirmed that a fire broke out in a training building outside the facility. Preliminary visuals of the fire at the building near the nuclear facility showed continuous shelling and smoke rising on early Friday.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear facility powers more than a fifth of the total electricity generated in Ukraine.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says it has put its Incident and Emergency Centre in “full 24/7 response mode” due to the “serious situation” unfolding at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
Ukrainian authorities later confirmed the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was now secured.
“The director of the plant said that the nuclear safety is now guaranteed,” Oleksandr Starukh, head of the military administration of the Zaporizhzhia region, said on Facebook.
“According to those responsible for the plant, a training building and a laboratory were affected by the fire,” he added.
US secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm also confirmed that the area near the nuclear facility has not shown signs of elevated radiation readings, signalling that the ‘essential’ equipment has not been hit.
“We have seen no elevated radiation readings near the facility,” Ms Granholm said.
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